A Word on Mic-Night Etiquette

So yesterday I performed and eagerly watched as many creative people gave it all they got, at The Coffee Affair in Colindale. Except I was so fuming with anger over the rudeness of one poet that I got all on my high horse.

Luckily, this did not detract from the awesomeness of the evening, and I’m so glad I got to try something I find rather difficult surrounded by so many friends. I’m also lucky that I have so many talented friends who do stuff I’ve never really witnessed before.  There’s an art to performance poetry and fiction that is completely different to writing.

I’ve been doing the writing thing for a while, but I’ve never really performed anything. And writing for performance is so different. It’s really opened up a new world to me, and though I am not a poet, I think all writers can benefit from the teachings of the performance poet.

So, a word on etiquette (Or, me getting back at Mr Rude Poet).

In the words of the immortals Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip: Thou shalt not attend an open mic and leave before it’s done just because you’ve finished your shitty little poem or song you self-righteous prick.

So this guy rocks up, and puts his name on the list, but it’s okay, because we’re cool like that. Artists and hippies are okay with spontaneity. Except he then proceeds to LOUDLY inform us that the mic isn’t working, and why aren’t there enough chairs downstairs, and this venue isn’t arranged very well and can’t someone do something about the air-conditioning? Which are all fine complaints except they’re DURING the first two acts.

This is the worst thing, beyond performing then leaving. In fact, it’s worse. Talking through another artist’s set is rude, self-obsessive and just plain irritating. We’re meant to respect each other’s art. I think he was bitter because he was competing with a younger generation. Either way, after talking obnoxiously through other people’s sets, I’d decided to hate him. And I was entitled.

But just because you hate someone doesn’t mean their poetry isn’t any good. And I’ll admit, I don’t know much about poetry…Okay, that’s a lie, I did a Literature and Creative Writing degree. All I mean is, poetry isn’t my thing, I can’t always tell if it’s good. I can tell when it’s absolutely mind-blowing, and I can tell when it’s boring.

This guy’s work was fairly okay. Who hasn’t written love poems? And he ripped off the title of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience in his little self-published book. Well, Ya boo sucks buddy, because I’m a creative entrepreneur, and I get how self-publishing works. I also understand that for poetry, if you’re not an excellent performer, it’s sometimes the only way. But blah.

I have constant trouble reconciling the fact that ‘I’m a writer because I couldn’t be anything else’ with these other people who proclaim they’re writers and are, in fact terrible. Anyone got any answers on this? I’ve always assumed you’re a writer if you can’t not write, if you have to be writing. But if you’re smart, you’ll not just be writing about yourself, you’ll be aware of the market, of your audience, of where you can be ‘placed’. Yes, it’s art, but if you want it out in the world you’ve got to consider it a product.

So, I’ll be updating more and more with what I’m writing, writing exercises and thoughts, as well as how the workshops are going. I’ll be visiting the London Book Fair and also teaching creative writing at Larmer Tree Festival this year. So there’ll be pictures and stories galore!

Happy Writing!